As a newcomer to the U.S. several decades ago, I made my first foray into American literature with Edith Wharton's Custom of the Country (Vintage, $12), and soon I was devouring everything this fine lady had written. This week, as we celebrate what would have been Wharton's 156th birthday, it's an opportune time to highlight some of her most impactful work.

I don't think there's an official category for "Retail Lit," but there should be. We just need more books. I spent many years working in retail, but I have precious few books on my shelves that reflect that world. John Updike's short story "A&P" and Steve Martin's novel Shopgirl (Hyperion) come to mind.

By any measure, the last two years in American politics have been turbulent, if not downright disorienting. As politicians engage in shouting matches on social media (and elsewhere), I've been turning to an unlikely source of comfort: memoirs by staffers from the Obama White House.

Many people view January as a time to start fresh and make improvements in their lives. A good way to take steps toward that goal? Pick up some helpful guides to getting to know yourself and adjusting habits, career and relationships to fit your personality better.

CaribPR Wire, NEW YORK, NY: The unlikely marriage of weed and curry is among the recipes featured in a new book that encapsulates many of the exotic curries of the Caribbean region and is now available in time for the holiday season.

As a total history nerd, I've come to relish the challenge of an immense, authoritative tome. As a bookstore employee, however, I'm conscious of how unappetizing a big book filled with dozens of names and dates can look to the average reader.

My Sister, the Serial Killer is one of the best books to come along in quite a while--fast, funny, and completely engrossing. Oyinkan Braithwaite offers up a tale of Nigerian sisters Ayoola, a beautiful and sociopathic serial killer who destroys boyfriends, aware that all they ever want her for is her appearance, and Korede, a nurse whose average looks leave her continually passed up in preference for Ayoola. Still, taciturn and devoted Korede works hard to cover up her charming sister's crimes. What will happen when they both fall for the same guy? At once a page-turner and a perversely righteous tale about the emptiness of physical beauty and the superficiality of being charmed by it, My Sister, the Serial Killer is entertaining, provoking, and utterly fascinating!"

Though the times we are living in today are safer, cleaner and less violent than any other time in human history, we nevertheless are surrounded by stories of injustice and cruelty: terrorism, global warming, widespread hunger, domestic violence, natural disasters, drug addiction.... We can become overwhelmed by the problems facing society. We might even catch ourselves thinking, if only there were a superhero who could stop this.

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